This paper provides new empirical evidence on the effects of mergers and acquisitions (M&As) on the shape of the firm size distribution, by using data of the population of manufacturing firms in the Netherlands. Our analysis shows that M&As do not affect the size distribution when we consider the entire population of firms. When we focus on the firms involved in an M&A event, we observe a shift of the firm size distribution towards larger sizes. Firm size distribution becomes more concentrated around the mean, less skewed to the right hand side, and thinner at the tails as a whole. The shift toward higher sizes due to M&A is not uniform but affects firms of different sizes in different ways. While the number of firms in the lower tail decreased, the number of firms in the central size classes increased substantially and outweighed the increase in the number (and mean size) of firms in the upper tail of the distribution (consequently the overall market concentration measured by the Herfindahl index declines). M&As lead to a departure from log-normality of the firm size distribution, suggesting that external growth does not follow Gibrat's law. Our counterfactual analysis highlights that only internal growth does not affect the shape of the size distribution of firms. On the contrary, it suggests that the change in the size distribution is almost entirely due to the external growth of the firms.

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ERIM Article Series (EAS)
Journal of Evolutionary Economics
Erasmus Research Institute of Management

Cefis, E., Marsili, O., & Schenk, H. (2009). The effects of mergers and acquisitions on the firm size distribution. Journal of Evolutionary Economics, 19(1), 1–20. doi:10.1007/s00191-008-0105-9